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When you wake up early in the morning, try starting your day with this short meditation exercise: close your eyes and relax your body. Tune out all the surrounding noise, try to quiet your mind, and recite this to yourself numerous times: “I’m enough.” “I’m loved.” “I'm safe.” When you’re ready, open your eyes and observe how you feel. Are you more at peace and connected to yourself?
This meditation practice is simple and easy to do yet very powerful. It's a potent way to relax, promote inner peace, and generate feelings of contentment and joy. But among the many benefits of practicing meditation, the most vital of all is arguably this: loving and appreciating yourself.
Read on to know why you should try incorporating self-love meditation into your everyday routine today.
What is Self-Love?
But first, let's take a look at self-love. Admittedly, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition for self-love as it can mean differently to different people. In general, it can be in the form of:
• Connecting to your inner self to know its needs and set limits to things that cause chaos to your thought life, emotions, and physical well-being
• Listening to the inner critic and digging into its roots to understand its source
• Letting go of things that are outside your control such as other people’s actions and thoughts
• Replacing unrealistic expectations
• Valuing and appreciating the real you and, by extension, others
• Learning about yourself without judgment or criticism
Taking time for your self-care routines such as going to the spa, having a regular skincare routine, and exercising is also another form of self-love. It's because self-care can help improve your state of mind, boost your energy and mood, and enhance your life experiences.
Silence the Inner Critic
When talking about nurturing self-love, meditation is one of the effective ways to do this. Spiritual Teacher and Counselor Diana Lang describes meditation as the “fastest, most direct route to self-awareness and learning to truly love yourself.” Meditation teaches us to be forgiving, compassionate and, hence, accepting and loving of ourselves and others, she explains.
This is vital especially if you tend to self-criticize even in your smallest mistakes. Compared to loving oneself, self-criticism is surprisingly easy for many to do. With self-criticism, your inner dialogues may look like this: “I’m always saying the wrong things” or “I will never do a great job.”
Ali Miller, a California-based therapist, notes that all negative self-talks are both “very painful” and “founded on the belief that you’re not good enough.” Another specialist, Psychologist Allison Kelly, explains that, while some apply self-criticism to push themselves to be better, it is, in fact, "more harmful than helpful." It can even backfire as it may lead to increased stress and unhappiness.
On the other hand, self-compassion, a manifestation of self-love, is more effective for self-growth because it gives us a deeper sense of joy and helps boost our potential for happiness.
Meditation Practice: A Self-Love Exercise
In 2012, a study released by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health showed that about 18 million adults in the US were practicing meditation. The figures could have burgeoned since then as meditation continues to grow in popularity among people who swear by its health and wellness benefits.
• Reduction of high levels of stress
• Increased productivity
• Improved relationships
• Better focus
• Mood booster
Additionally, a meditation experience that leads to mindfulness can help lower anxiety, promote body relaxation, and boost self-esteem and happiness. With this act of mind training, you are in better control of your responses to stressful and difficult situations whether at work or at home.
According to Headspace, “the root of self-love, or the lack of it, can often be found in our thinking.” It's essential, therefore, to be in touch with your thoughts, mind, and emotions to observe the patterns that are hindering you from truly knowing and loving yourself.
Meditation allows you to go deep into your thinking, analyze your thoughts, and increase your awareness-- an exercise that may help unlock self-love. When you engage in constant self-love meditation, you may experience these 5 benefits:
1. Increased Self-Worth
According to Author Courtney Ackerman, who holds a Master of Arts in Positive Organizational Psychology, self-worth is at the heart of our emotions, behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. It’s all about how we view and value ourselves. When you have a healthy love for yourself, you find your worth. You recognize your value as a human being and that you alone are enough. You don’t need external validation to make you feel worthy.
When you meditate to cultivate self-love and self-worth, the focus is seeing through and understanding your thought patterns– whether positive or negative– and learning how to let go of things that are beyond your control.
To start your meditation, make time for quiet reflection daily– away from the chaos of the world around you. Allot 10 minutes of quiet meditation. Focus on your breathing, and allow yourself to relax and reach a state of mindful calm.
You may also use this time to visualize achieving success in different areas of your life such as your career, relationships, and hobbies. Seeing yourself strong and empowered helps create positive beliefs about and more confidence in your capabilities.
2. Improved Self-Esteem
An estimated 85% of people worldwide suffer from low self-esteem, impacting confidence, love, and respect for oneself.
There are many ways to improve your self-esteem, one of which is to commit to self-love meditation practice. Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of “Be the Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World,” explain in their column that meditating allows you to transform your lack of self-esteem into inner confidence and belief through a deeper connection with yourself and others.
When you struggle with low self-esteem, negative thoughts can spiral rapidly out of your control. During mediation, tell yourself: “I am strong” or “I trust myself.” This will help reframe your mindset toward more loving views of yourself.
3. Enhanced Confidence and Positivity
Being unable to set healthy boundaries, withdrawing socially, putting others down, or feeling “shame in your emotional body” are all manifestations of a lack of self-confidence, Chopra.com says.
Meditation may serve as a tool to guide and help you better handle and respond to negative and self-critical thoughts affecting your outlook and beliefs in your capabilities.
When you engage in self-love meditation, focus on an affirmation or mantra that embodies what you want to achieve such as self-acceptance or happiness. Speaking affirmations out loud or internally to yourself during meditation will help shift your thoughts toward greater awareness of your potential rather than only looking at the things currently lacking in your life.
4. Openness to Oneself, Others, and Opportunities
Meditation is a tool by which you can achieve increased mindfulness.
Meditation Teacher Frank Ostaseski defines mindfulness as “that quality of our being that helps us to appreciate the spaciousness and gives space to things.” With openness, you’re more welcoming of new ideas and experiences. Instead of cowering, you become bold in pursuing things that excite you and make you happy as opposed to preferring routines and staying in your comfort zone.
When you become more mindful of the present, you are more open to opportunities– allowing you to lead your life with more meaning and purpose. You are in touch with your emotions, enabling you to see your beliefs that limit or sabotage your success. As you let go of the negative and things that weigh you down, you boldly take opportunities that are before you.
To start your self-love meditation practice, close your eyes and relax your body. Allow yourself to focus on your breath or a mantra that resonates with you such as “I am open” or “I am present.” Then, observe your thoughts without being attached or judgmental. Reflect on your experience afterward.
5. More Creative and Innovative
Practicing self-love meditation not only aids in overall body relaxation but also helps enhance creativity and innovation. When stress is getting into you, days of meditation practice make you more thoughtful of your decisions instead of engaging in reactive fight-or-flight responses.
Additionally, when you meditate, you become more centered and relaxed, enabling you to silence your inner critic better. With your mind settled, you can engage in creative and innovative endeavors.
One way to get started with your meditation is through guided meditations. These audio meditation sessions help increase your focus on a specific topic rather than letting your thoughts wander.
One might think that loving oneself should come naturally, but this is not often the case. Instead of practicing self-love, we become our worst enemy.
Meditation can make a difference in improving your disposition in life, and how you face life’s challenges. You will be surprised by the many positive effects of meditation, including allowing you to appreciate your true nature.
There are different styles of meditation for you to choose from. For it to work, however, it requires constant practice. Try meditation now to help you get back to your center and be more loving of yourself and, by extension, more loving of others.
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